The popular use and meaning of words of affirmation is to say or write something positive, that supports or builds up another person.
The word affirmation is derived from the Latin verb affirmare and it means to present something as true, fixed, firm; and also to make steady and strengthen, to confirm or to corroborate.
Words of affirmation are also often seen as one of the five love languages, which has popularized different ways of giving and receiving love in a relationship.
Words of affirmation can also be spoken to yourself (as a self affirmation) as well as to someone else - or your pet (!) - and the intention is always to state something positive as a truth, with the objective of challenging and countering negative thoughts.
In this article we are going to be focusing on words of affirmation as expressions of truth rather than expressions of love - although obviously expressions of love can be expressions of truth!
Self-Affirmation Theory (Steele, 1988) is one of the main psychological theories that underpin words of affirmation. This theory is grounded in the view that we maintain our sense of self-integrity by affirming our beliefs in positive ways. The theory comprises three factors that may explain how words of affirmation work:
 We maintain a level of self-talk that re-enforces a positive self-identity that is flexible and adaptable to the requirements of the situations we find ourselves in.
 This self-identity is not about being the best but about being generally competent in areas that matter to us.
 We say positive things to ourselves in order to live up to our values and deserve recognition and praise.
Self-Affirmation Theory is closely related to Self-Efficacy Theory which is based on the work of Albert Bandura which can be summarized in his own words as:
Bandura's research and a great deal of other supporting research has shown that self-efficacy is a key driver of success across all domains of life.
Or, to put it in more popular language, believing in yourself really does work!
From a neurological perspective there is evidence suggesting that certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks.
In 2016 Christopher N. Cascio and others conducted research that gathered MRI evidence that demonstrated “…the neural processes associated with successful self-affirmation…”
Put simply, the neuroscientific research shows that we can see physiological changes in the wiring of the brain when we
self-affirm in positive ways.
The sub-conscious, autopilot, part of the brain is very literal and responds to clear, simple instructions that are positive, present tense, statements of fact.
So words of affirmation have to be expressed in the language of the brain and follow a formula, they:
1) Are always expressed in the present tense as your brain only responds to present tense statements.
2) Only include positive words. The brain has to work hard to unpack negative words and convert them into positive ones. So avoid words like: “don’t”, “can’t” or “won’t”.
3) Are spoken as statements of fact and truth. Avoid words like “might” and “could” and use words like “am” and “do”.
Your brain is hardwired in such a way that it is constantly looking for clues to filter your environment and guide your actions, it will pick up on any available influence.
This could mean all the subconscious fears and doubts you haven’t dealt with, and the messages embedded in your external environment.
Fortunately you can take control of this process.
Jack Canfield has published this simple but powerful step by step guide to creating and using words of affirmation focused on success.
Words have power because of the results they create in our life experiences
In The Power of Framing we are talked about the causal link between inner states and external events:
”We are energetic beings. The inner associations that we make and the meanings that we ascribe to those associations are all energy based.
By changing the words we use to reframe an experience we change the underlying energetic state.
This change in energetic state changes the results that we create.”
Words Are The "Shortcut Keys" To Our Energetic States
Taking it to next level
Here is a very simple but powerful technique developed and taught by John Harricharan.
It relieves stress and anxiety, helps you regain your balance and manifest your intentions.
This starts with words and move to visualisation and feeling. This is an energy based approach to words of affirmation.
I commend it to you: The Three Minute Power Pause
The most powerful words of affirmation
Affirmations that others may say to you can be powerful, and self-affirmations are also powerful, but in my experience the most powerful words of affirmation that you can receive are from your higher self.
Your ego's desire to be in control, your ego attempts to usurp the role of your higher self, will do all that it can to disconnect you from your true source of power...
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